From urban beaches and outdoor cinema, to aerial theatre and Europe’s biggest street carnival, here are 34 COOLEST Things to do in London with Kids Summer 2015. Have a great one!
1. DIVE INTO AN OUTDOOR POOL at King’s Cross Pond Club, a brilliant temporary installation (only around for 2 years) that’s also London’s first manmade bathing pond. There are spots to picnic around the pool and also just outside in Lewis Cubitt gardens. (ongoing)
More swimming outdoors can be enjoyed at London Fields Lido, the Serpentine Lido, Tooting Lido and Hampstead Heath Bathing Ponds.
2. SLIP AND SLIDE on a giant water slide at Alexandra Palace Summer Festival, one of several London water slides planned for the hot, hot season. (Jul 25)
3. FLY THROUGH THE AIR with Scarabeus Aerial Summer School where you can stick your tongue out at gravity, using climbing harnesses and cocoons, plus expert instruction. (Aug 4-8 and 11-15)
4. HIT THE BEACH as the ever popular Camden Beach returns to The Roundhouse with 150 tonnes of sand, beach huts, deckchairs, ping pong, cocktails and crowds! Get there early as it’s a roadblock especially weekends and evenings. (until Aug 23)
You can also pack your bucket and spade for Beach East at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Southbank Centre Urban Beach on the Pier, Royal Victoria Docks beach, Brent Cross beach and the Beach at JW3 in north London.
5. SPLASH THROUGH A FOUNTAIN at the fantastic Granary Square fountains that light up beautifully at night. Just around the corner, the Lewis Cubitt Garden fountains will cool you off with less munchkins to (elbow out the way) navigate. (ongoing)
Have more splashy fun at Jeppe Hein’s Appearing Rooms fountains at Southbank Centre, the V&A museum fountains, Somerset House fountains, and the paddling pool at Clissold Park.
6. BOUNCE TO THE OUNCE at London’s biggest trampoline park Oxygen, opening this month in West Acton and bringing the spring to the capital. (ongoing)
7. MAKE BELIEVE at Kidzania at Westfield London, the UK’s newest attraction for kids who like to pretend like they’re grown-ups. An immersive world where little ones can play at being police, firemen, bankers, vets and more. (ongoing)
8. RIDE THE BIG WHEEL and other traditional fairground attractions at any one of multiple locations: George Irving’s Funfair rolls into Shepherd’s Bush (Jul 17-Aug 2), Burgess Park in Southwark (Aug 14-23) and London Fields for the Bank Holiday weekend (Aug 26-31). Also don’t forget the Hampstead Heath Funfair also over the August Bank Holiday (Aug 29-31).
9. MAKE A FURRY FRIEND in Wimbledon where a hit show, based on the bestselling picture book by Anthony Browne, makes a welcome return to the stage in Gorilla at Polka Theatre. Puppets, music and magic for ages 4-7. £13.50 (Jul 17-Aug 16)
10. BLESS YOUR BEAUTIFUL HIDE, it’s Seven Brides for Seven Brothers! One of my absolute favourite musicals playing at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre this summer. Expect big numbers, barnstorming dance choreography, and a musical high! (Jul 19-Aug 29)
11. KID FRIENDLY SHAKESPEARE is on a double bill of Shakespeare Untold, the Globe theatre’s touring performances of Romeo & Juliet (The Party Planner’s Tale) and Titus Andronicus (The Pie Maker’s Tale), both specially adapted for family audiences, playing at Pleasance Theatre in Islington. £10 (Jul 24-25)
12. FREE KIDS TICKETS are on offer every year with every grown-up ticket during Kids Week, an unmissable opportunity to catch some of the top West End family shows like Matilda, The Lion King, Wicked and more. Hurry though, the best ones are bagged super quickly! (Aug 1-31)
13. STRENGTH AND HONOUR are on display at the Gladiator Games taking over Guildhall for another stonking display of swords, drama and history brought to life. (Aug 8-16)
14. WATCH THIS SPACE, the annual festival of outdoor performances at National Theatre, is now known as River Stage, offering 6 weeks of FREE entertainment for kids and adults, including circus, live concerts, dance theatre and more (until Aug 30)
15. AYE AYE CAPTAIN is the refrain in Against Captain’s Orders, an immersive behind-the-scenes adventure at National Maritime Museum that had my 6-year-old ‘running my fastest’ in its most exhilarating moments. Catch it before it sails out of town. (until Aug 31)
16. DODGE THE SPLOOSH GUNS at Bugsy Malone, a fantastic stage adaptation of the multiple Oscar winning Alan Parker musical, performed by some very sparky kids at Lyric Hammersmith. I defy you to leave without a massive grin on your face! (until Sep 5)
17. OUTDOOR CINEMA is wonderful in warmer weather, with family friendly flicks popping up in parks and spaces all over London: check out The Nomad wandering about town, Rooftop Film Club in various high spots; the Floating Cinema on the canals; Film 4 Summer Series at Somerset House; Kew the Movies; and The Scoop at More London (thru Sep, various dates)
18. MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU (and your wallet) at Secret Cinema’s Star Wars the Empire Strikes Back, held at a secret London location, where you become part of the movie in the ultimate cinematic experience. Tickets ain’t cheap, but the memories will last a lifetime. (until Sep 27)
We also like
Hercules: A Dance Cabaret at Sadler’s Wells Peacock Theatre in Holborn, under 5s admitted (Jul 24-25); Dot, Squiggle and Rest at Polka Theatre (until Aug 16); Little Frankenstein at Little Angel Theatre (Jul 17-18); Captain ShowOff! at The Scoop at More London, FREE outdoor theatre (Aug 5-30); Vue Kids AM and Odeon Kids Club offer pocket money prices for family films (all summer)
19. FUNNY FACE Audrey Hepburn is the summer’s leading lady at National Portrait Gallery, where the screen icon and humanitarian is celebrated in photographs, paintings and more. There are some brilliant holiday workshops for kids too! (Jul 2-Oct 18)
20. GET THE ROYAL TREATMENT as Buckingham Palace Summer Opening offers that rare glimpse into Her Majesty’s HQ, with jewels on display, priceless artefacts and enough palatial grandeur to make your eyes water. (Jul 25-Sep 27)
21. CLIMB, RUN, HIDE on the Brutalist Playground, a conceptual sculpture/play experiment designed by Turner prize winning artists Assemble and Simon Terrill at Royal Institute of British Architects. FREE, for all ages. (until Aug 16)
22. SAY HEY TO ANDY DAY who’s making a special appearance at the Little Creatures Family Festival at London Zoo. Come for animal talks, displays, arts and crafts and the new Jungle Jukebox shows filled with puppetry, songs and laughter. Regular zoo prices (Aug 28-30)
23. MAKE A COLOURFUL CAPE and battle your fears in a Whitechapel Gallery Family Day (Jul 25) inspired by the Children’s Commission 2015 by Brazilian artist Rivane Neuenschwander’s translating kids’ worries and phobias into fabric art. (until Aug 30)
24. ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE at the Southbank Centre Festival of Love which is in full swing throughout the summer. Think live music, Big Wedding Weekend, family theatre, urban beach, London Wonderground, Udderbelly shows, site-wide installations, food market and more. (until Aug 31)
25. GO WHEEE! at the Carsten Holler: Decision interactive, multisensory exhibition where the main attraction is a massive slide outside Hayward Gallery, but there’s also loads to discover inside. (until Sep 6)
26. SPICE UP YOUR LIFE at Kew Gardens’ Full of Spice Festival, a playful experience for all ages where you can sample cocktails, wander through installations, and make art inspired by various spices. (until Sep 12)
27. FLOAT LIKE A BUTTERFLY at Natural History Museum where their hugely popular walk-through exhibition Sensational Butterflies (favoured by little Prince George) is open for another summer. And if fluttering creatures aren’t your thing, you can also Walk that Dinosaur in their famous prehistoric galleries. (until Sep 13)
28. STEP BACK IN TIME at House of Illustration in King’s Cross with their Ladybird by Design exhibition, showcasing vintage prints and classic books from the well-loved kids’ publishing company. The exhibition is a stone’s throw from King’s Cross Pond Club and the Granary Square fountains, plus Kerb street food make it a great day out. (until Sep 27)
29. WALK THROUGH COLOUR at the stunning new Serpentine Pavilion installation, guaranteed to keep little eyes alight and little hands exploring. The fabulous Diana Princess of Wales’ playground is nearby for afterwards! (until Oct 18)
30. OGLE THE OGRE in Shrek’s Adventure, the latest London attraction for families, just around the corner from the London Eye and Sea Life London Aquarium. Live shows, characters from the hit comedies and plenty of interaction for all ages. (ongoing)
31. GO LOCO IN THE PARK with some of our favourite family ravers, as they hold their smashing summer festival Disco Loco in the Park much earlier than usual for 2015. (Jul 26)
32. RIDE A RICKSHAW and play garden games at the Summer Festival at V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, that serves up great arts and crafts for kids, face painting, live music and performance, fashion and food stalls every year (Jul 26)
33. POP AND LOCK at the Southbank Centre’s Urban Weekend where breakin’, b-boying, krumping, graffiti art, street sports and live DJs keep a vibrant crowd bubbling all weekend long. FREE, for all ages. (Aug 7-9)
34. JUMP AND WHINE with the party people at Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s largest street bash, where floats, costumes, steel pans, sound systems and street food stalls (jerk chicken galore) make it a Bank Holiday to remember. Sunday is Children’s Day so grab your whistles and get those toddlers dancing! (Aug 30-31)
Find more party fun in our Top 20 Family Festivals in London and Beyond guide
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The cheeky photo of the boys and their bestie Phoenix above was captured by my friend Jo on Brick Lane in May. I shared it on my Instagram page and to Jo’s delight, the picture was then picked up and shared by the street artist in question on his Facebook page.
I’m currently away with the family in Nigeria for my mother’s funeral and won’t return to London until mid August. I will only be updating the blog on occasion, but you can keep up with some of our experiences abroad via social media. Follow us on Instagram (instagram.com/babesabouttown), Twitter (twitter.com/Babesabouttown) and Facebook (facebook.com/BabesaboutTown). Have a fantastic summer!